In an article published on the Southern African Tourism Update, they discussed how travellers with mobile phones booked in a different way to those who booked through PCs and laptops.
Priceline.com did a study based on a sampling of mobile bookings made earlier this year after the Priceline app added the ability to book round-trip and one-way domestic and international airline tickets.
“Mobile-equipped consumers are what we call ‘untethered’ travellers,” said priceline.com’s Brian Ek. “They like to create their travel experiences on the fly, rather than stick to itineraries planned far in advance. Hotels are typically chosen closer to check-in day (even on the same day), and many bookings are made while on the road or after arrival in town.”
Mobile bookings could be a great way of filling up those last minute empty beds… Make sure you have a mobile friendly website and that the traveller can also book through it easily.
NightsBridge offers both of these solutions to you! Please read our article on the importance of mobile websites and get yours today!
Interesting PWC statistics published recently provide great news for the bulk of our clients who offer a more personalized overnight experience. A lot more guests seem to want to feel at home when away!
Over the next 3 years the number of guest houses in South Africa will grow by around 4.2% to an estimated 11 200 rooms in 2016.
~ Price Waterhouse Coopers South African Hospitality Outlook
What can Hotels offer that Guest Houses Usually Don’t?
Hotels are classified as ‘formal service accommodation’ by the Tourism Grading Council. This means guests will most probably have 24-hour assistance with any problem they might have, early or late check-in/outs or food available when they order it at any time.
Security might be important to these guests with key cards and security guards making them feel more at ease (this could especially be important to females travelling on their own).
Why Travellers Might Still Prefer Guest Houses
It seems travellers are starting to appreciate a homely experience where their surroundings are similar to those where they normally live. They like having snacks and drinks in the fridge, full DSTV and free WiFi, just like they would have when they are not travelling.
Guest Houses provide a more comfortable experience from the get-go. You are likely to deal with the owner himself, who would most often do the welcoming and act as concierge – advising you on dinner or activity options.
So go ahead – cook a home-cooked meal for your guests and make your establishment as homely as possible to take advantage of changing travelling preferences! Your guests will surely return for more!
Our recent trip to Thailand provided some great insights from the other side of the industry. Instead of supplying the technology, we were using it.
This week we highlight some things we felt differentiated our stay at particular guest houses or hotels; something that made us want to reward that hotel with a good review.
Catering for all Nationalities
We were astonished at the range of catering options offered at almost all the places we stayed — large and small. People visit Thailand from all over the world: Europeans, South Americans, and Asians. At breakfast we saw everything from cornflakes, bacon and eggs, cold meats and pastries, to salads, noodles and dim sum. We developed real respect for those chefs!
African establishments have started offering many more health options in line with guest preferences. However, if we want to appeal to other parts of the world, we’ll have to sharpen those kitchen knives.
The Importance of WiFi (again!)
International travelers can’t live without WiFi. It is becoming one of the major differentiators when guests decide where to stay. There are several reasons, but staying connected with office or family; exploring things to do in the area and updating social media are some of the main ones.
I needed to keep up with e-mail and resolve any issues back at the office. You are a lucky person if your boss or customers are happy to leave you alone for two weeks, but for the rest of us, remaining connected while away remains an important consideration.
Secondly, the WiFi enabled us to explore the area we were in and decide what to do each day. Although this might not seem of much benefit to the guest house, we actually stayed on longer in one location simply because there was more to do than we had first thought.
If your WiFi offer is still not free and very easy to connect, make the change. The hassle factor for guests is simply not worth the imagined risk of them using too much bandwidth.
Information & Maps
Can you drink the water? (If you don’t provide bottled water, put a cold flask in the fridge – at least that indicates it’s safe.).Can I walk out at night? What about language difficulties for the notices in your room?
Maps! Your website is not just for enticing people to your place, but also to help your guest arrive. Please put maps in an obvious place on your website so you can show the taxi driver. Make the address clear and potentially put directions in a couple of languages (we often had our iPads out, with screen shots of the map/directions, which was very helpful to taxi drivers).
Some guest houses had cards printed up with address details in Thai script, which their guests could hand to Tuk-Tuk drivers when really stuck.
What Makes an Establishment Stand Out?
Finally, I should describe some of the nice touches we saw. One guest house left a note on our bed that gave us translations for different colours in Thai. We thought that was great! It was a way of exposing us to some aspect of Thai language and culture that we would not have picked up elsewhere (how about an old Zulu story or parable for your international guest?)
Towel shapes were also quite popular, with one turned into a lovely elephant. Interesting local artifacts were also used to decorate the room, which were offered for sale at reception; items such as soap dishes, carvings, and other ornaments. I felt they were a way of inviting the local community to share in some of the benefit of my visit.
So What Did We Learn?
Thailand is an experienced tourist destination. From 336,000 tourists in 1967 to 22 million in 2012, Thailand now rates 18th most visited country in the world (South Africa gets about 8 million). We found their offering sophisticated and catered to a wide-range of travelers (from backpacker to 5 star).
Our experience is that Southern Africa does very well in many regards, but the real lesson we took away is how well Thai guest houses anticipated our problems or needs. I suppose it comes down to the basics of customer service, but putting yourself in the shoes of your travelling customer is not easy. It takes research.
Read Part I here.
This blog was written by Neil Emerick after returning from Thailand on a quest to experience online travel-, accommodation- and outing-bookings. Neil & Theresa are co-founders of NightsBridge.
Recently, my wife and I took a trip to Thailand, which was quite splendid. However, with our Nightsbridge caps on we made it a rather different experience. The difference was we made absolutely no bookings in advance other than our flights (which we did one week before we left) and our first hotel. Everything else was organized from Thailand.
Now, we concede this is not the way most people book their holidays. My brother would be horrified, planning his holiday eighteen months in advance and laminating itinerary cards for his family. We had dinner with one English couple who booked the same hotel, for fourteen nights, full-board. Moving around much was not on their agenda.
However, we intended to explore a bit and ended up staying in seven different hotels in our sixteen night stay. In this article, and the one following, I want to give you an indication of our online booking process and what things you might consider in catering to travellers who book like us. Read more
As we discussed in our previous blog post, rich content is very important in all your online marketing efforts.
With printed content you work on it once and leave it at that. Online content is more like a living, breathing sales person for your property. It is your job to make sure your ‘sales person’ is updated, polished and creates a great impression.
Let’s discuss a few more tips on upgrading what you have online at the moment: Read more